Dog attack still under investigation

A 16-month-old baby girl died as a result of a dog attack on County Road 87 in the Martintown community in Union County.

Destiny Marie Knox was under the care of her babysitter Tonya Graham when the attack happened.

According to Union County Sheriff Tommy Wilhite, Graham and Knox were at Graham’s boyfriend’s residence, the home of Jerry Westmoreland.

Westmoreland is the owner of five dogs, reportedly of the American Pit Bull Terrier breed.

Wilhite said that Graham and other family members, including a 19-year-old male, were bringing groceries into the home when the attack began to take place. Reportedly, the dogs were normally kept chained outside in the backyard, but in this instance, one dog followed Graham and others into the house upon entrance.

“They walked into the bedroom and the dog attacked the baby,” Wilhite said. “The 19-year-old tried to pull the dog off of the baby and started hitting the dog with a baseball bat and stabbing it, but it was too late at that point.”

When the police officer got to the scene, the dog was shot and killed. According to the Mississippi’s vicious animal law, if an attack on a human occurs, the police officer then deems the dog vicious and he or she has the authority to terminate the animal.

The mother of the victim is Nicole Howard and the father of the baby girl is Detrick Knox. The dog’s name was ‘Foolish’ and Westmoreland volunteered to surrender the rest of his dogs to the Oxford Humane Society.

“We have not been able to prove any neglect and haven’t established a criminal violation at this time. During the March term of the grand jury is when charges, if any, will be determined,” said Wilhite.

Emily Knox, Detrick Knox’s first cousin, said, “Destiny was such a happy baby and she always had a smile on her face. This is such a tragedy and we are all praying for the whole family.”